The games industry in 2023 is big business – in fact, with a market valuation of over $210 billion, it’s some five times larger than its closest rival, the film industry. More people, from all walks of life, are playing games than ever before. However, some analysts have recently begun to argue that the industry may have become a victim of its own success. Games, and the consoles required to play them, are now more expensive than ever.
A leading triple-A title on the new 9th generation PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X may nowadays end up setting you back $70, a $20 increase over 6th-gen launch titles. Even when correcting for inflation, this is a steep asking price and one that reflects the longer production times and bigger budgets that go into developing games like Cyberpunk 2077.
However this can make gaming, once a relatively cheap and accessible pastime, prohibitively expensive to the majority of consumers. Fortunately though, there are many interesting ways that adventurous gamers can still access flagship thrills at a fraction of the cost – let’s take a look at the best of these below.
Access Browser-based Titles
The open waters of the internet have long been the province of cost-effective and free gaming experiences, it can just take some digging to find the hidden treasure sometimes. For example, comparison platforms like VegasSlotsOnline do a stellar job of bringing together a trustworthy directory of the best online casinos out there today for gamers to explore.
What’s more, with some of the most competitive sign-up offers you’ll find anywhere, such platforms guarantee not only a curated selection you can rely upon, but some of the best deals on real-money gaming you’ll find for your region.
Elsewhere, websites like Newgrounds and Kongregate, which made a name for themselves as leading portals for indie-gaming during the heyday of the Macromedia Flash plugin, still retain a massive catalog of compelling and free games to enjoy.
There you’ll find more creative minigames than you can shake a stick at, all now faithfully rendered in the modern standard of HTML5.
Explore What the Free-to-Play Sector Has To Offer
The free-to-play sector has got to be the most popular and successful corner of the modern games industry today, and this is for good reason. Popular games that have adopted this monetization model, from Call of Duty: Warzone, to Fortnite and Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier, give players complete access to big budget titles without any upfront costs.
The reason they’re able to achieve this feat is because they recoup their production and running costs through the sale of microtransactions focused on customizing your characters and weapons in-game.
This is distinct from freemium and ‘play to win’ titles, as the items that players can buy have no bearing on their ability to play the game well. This means that a player can jump into a game of PUBG Mobile and compete on a level field with other gamers, even if those opponents have invested plenty of time and money into customizing their characters.
This makes it a very fair monetization model, and enables those who are tight of funds or otherwise not inclined to invest in a game to play to their heart’s content without being penalized.
The Sky’s the Limit With Cloud Gaming
Imagine the value, flexibility and excitement that a ‘Netflix for games’ would represent. Until recently this sounded more like science fiction than something realistically achievable, but the cloud gaming space has come on leaps and bounds in recent years.
Big names in the space, like Xbox Cloud Gaming, already serve up over 170 different games to play on any web-connected device of your choosing, instantly, all for a regular OTT monthly subscription cost.
This represents incredible value for gamers, which is particularly apparent when you realize this enables you to circumvent the need to invest in a new games console to play the likes of Halo Infinite or Forza Horizon 5.
At around $500 apiece, it would take you around 4 years of a Game Pass subscription to even match the upfront cost of a new Xbox Series X.